Eastbourne athletics: Plodders persevere at Beachy Head races - Rovers run riot in forest

Polegate Plodders were out in force over two weekends for the Beachy Head 10k, half marathon and marathon.

Friday, 12th November 2021, 3:30 pm
Polegate Plodders at the Beachy Head 10k

Six brave Plodders battle the half marathon course in calm mild conditions. Fresh from her London Marathon exploits, Heather Long finished in a time of 2hr 19 mins 6sec.

Other results: Roger Humphries 2:08:35, David Greenaway 2:20:24, Lisa Price 2:34:47, Steve Townsend 2:48:26 and Nikki Loats 2:50:29.

A week later, it was the turn of the marathon runners. After extensive flooding from Storm Aurora just days before the event, organisers had to re-route the course after the banks of the River Cuckmere were left impassable for runners.

The Plodders at the Beachy Head half marathon

Competitors had to run the half marathon route twice, starting from Bedes School in Upper Dukes Drive then heading towards Willingdon, passing Friston, East Dean and then back round along the cliffs and Birling Gap.

Liam Brooks was competing in his second marathon, having done London for the club in 2019. He finished in a time of 4.31.27.

“It was such a hard race, not just physically but mentally too, having to do two laps following the last minute change to the course,” he said.

“The last few miles over the Seven Sisters second time round were incredibly tough but I managed to find some energy in the legs to push me home. I was happy to get round in the target that I set myself.”

Eastbourne Rovers at the Ashdown Forest fixture

Mega mileage Plodder Marco Fortmann completed his sixth Beachy Head Marathon and 29th overall in a time of 5:43:40.

“I was pleased my foot issue from London did not repeat itself; a lack of fitness and very little hill training since August or running in general means I was happy to finish, especially with 3,000 ft of climbs,” he said.

Ian Weston finished his sixth Beachy Head in 4:35:42 and Mike Leigh in 4:40:34, having completed the Brighton Marathon in September. He also ran the South Downs Way over four days over the August Bank Holiday.

Seven Plodders competed in the Beachy Head 10k. Martin Sales got a course PB in 56.42. Caroline Gearing achieved the unique triple of all three races having completed the half last year and the full marathon in 2019. She finished in 1:03:38.

“I have loved every minute of these races and have some wonderful memories, but that’s me done with Beachy Head runs,” she said.

Dave Moran finished in 1:02:22. He said: “I didn’t have a time in mind before I started. Half way through I wanted to throw in the towel, I was so sweaty a towel would have been very handy but I knuckled down and refocussed my efforts.”

Other results: Kevin Burton 55:50, Jamie Martin 57:37, Sarah Doherty 1:09:30 and Rebecca Goldsmith 1:22:02.

Three Plodders participated in the Manchester Marathon.

Patrick “The Rocket” Marsden finished his first marathon in 2.48.53. In near perfect conditions for long-distance running, Patrick was delighted.

“I wanted to see how I could do after a solid year of training. It felt great to finish other than the cramp I was fighting during the last couple of miles,” he said.

To train for the event, Patrick has been averaging 40-50 miles per week throughout the year and this has been mixed with a variety of speed sessions. Originally from the North West, he was supported by members of his family on the course.

“For anyone considering a marathon, it is the greatest running event you can do so you’ve got to do it,” he said.

“Train consistently and don’t start too quick.”

For Vanessa and Andy Britton, it was their first marathon having done several halves. Vanessa finished in a time of 5:01:18 and Andy 4:17:54. “It was the next step in our running challenges, we were relieved and exhausted after crossing the line. But our training paid off,” Vanessa said.

Having retired and moved to Sheffield earlier in the year, the couple found more time to train thoroughly.

“I stuck rigidly to a training programme, running 4-5 times a week, Andy was a bit more flexible. We both supplemented our training with yoga, boxercise and tai chi,” Vanessa said.

“Friends and family from Sheffield and Eastbourne supported us throughout and kept track of our progress, the running scene in Sheffield is huge and well supported.” The next big challenge for the couple is Brighton Marathon next April, plus several races before then.

“If anyone wants to consider a marathon, we’d say think hard about the commitment required and be prepared for the mental as well as the physical challenge on the day,” Vanessa said.


There was a welcome return to cross-country for more than 450 runners at the first East Sussex Cross Country League fixture in the picturesque Ashdown Forest.

Among those participating were a number from Eastbourne Rovers. In true cross country style, the rain poured and the hilly, muddy terrain made it challenging to stay upright over the five-mile course.

Rovers coach Mike Thompson, who also took part, said: “The team spirit and atmosphere among the Rovers was brilliant.”

He praised Crowborough Runners and the team of volunteers for keeping the show on the road in challenging weather.

There were some some impressive performances by the Eastbourne Rover Junior Squad including Ilya Korchev & Fin Lumber-Fry, who were first and second in their junior races.

The second fixture in the league is scheduled for November 28 at Snape Wood hosted by Wadhurst Runners.

If anyone has an interest in joining Eastbourne Rovers see www.eastbourne